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The May 2012 edition of Williamtown 'Radar News' carried the very  interesting story of Bill Chambers,
a 3SQN Armament Fitter in Butterworth whose talent for cartooning led to the printing of a unique book in Malaysia. 
(A real collector's item today!) 


 

The story below is illustrated with some of Bill's light-hearted creations...

Cartoonist Has the Last Laugh...

TO pass the time during his two-year posting at Butterworth in Malaysia, Air Force Armament Fitter Bill Chambers, now residing in Newcastle, dabbled in a bit of sketching, cartoon-style.

In fact, the gifted artist became so popular and accurate at making light of real-life dramas on the flight-line that the pilots, crew and fellow armourers looked forward to his handiwork for relief from the daily grind.   The hobby took on a life of its own and it wasn't long before the amateur cartoonist was churning out up to 10 sketches a day - depicting personnel, aircraft and equipment in rather cheerful and, at times, downright hilarious or embarrassing ways.

Then came the day when an Air Vice Marshal, unaware of the comic routine, had bungled his aircraft landing, scraping a section of the airframe along the tarmac in view of a crowd of onlookers.  Instinctively LAC Chambers went to work. 


Click here for more of Bill's "Ops" Cartoons

"At first the SNCOs were appalled ... reminding me the pilot was an AVM and warning me of all sorts of retribution.  But his ranking meant nothing to me, so I did my sketch and [as was his trademark] left my little piece of artwork on the book used by pilots to sign in after each flight.  There was a deathly silence as the AVM marched in, grabbed the paperwork and said, `What's this?'  He studied it for a few seconds before bursting into fits of laughter."

The moment provided the green light for young Bill Chambers to carry on with his hobby, producing hundreds of graphic art-works - some scribbled in a few minutes, others more professionally designed and meticulously planned over long hours.

So prolific was his work that it was decided whilst in Butterworth that Bill have some of the work published in a book titled `It's a Fighter World (Organised Chaos)', which were sold and the money donated to social club activities.

Bill Chambers was born in Sydney, adopted out at age 3 with his natural sister and grew up on the NSW South Coast.  He eventually tracked down his natural mother and discovered he had another two natural sisters, as well as several half-siblings.

"There are two questions every adopted child wants to know: Why?  And: Should I track down my natural mother?  My story happened to be one that was pretty common of the 1950s - too many kids and not enough money."

Bill said he's glad he was able to reunite with his mother [before she passed away] and two siblings he never knew existed.

"I hear of so many adoptees who find a parent or sibling has died just a few months before making contact."

His success in tracking down family at a time when it was far more difficult, and in some cases near impossible, put Bill into contact with many other adoptees looking for answers.

"At the end of the day, it is entirely up to the individual if they want those questions answered.  Finding a natural parent can put a lot of things to rest, but it can also lead to other issues.  I was certainly shocked to find that I had another two natural sisters, so late in my life."

Despite his schoolboy penchant for drawing and caricatures, Bill saw a better future in the Air Force and enlisted at age 17.

"There wasn't much else on offer on the South Coast, and I had always had a fascination with flying and planes," Bill said.


Click here for more of Bill's "Maintenance" Cartoons

He went in as an Armament Fitter working on the RAAF's Mirage fighters and Macchi trainers and enjoyed his first posting with 77 Squadron at RAAF Base Williamtown.  He was then posted to 481 Maintenance Squadron and 2OCU before joining 3 Squadron for 2 years in Butterworth (Malaysia) - accompanied by wife Kaye and baby son.  Their daughter was born whilst they were in Malaysia.

"We loved it ... there were over 2,000 Air Force personnel there at the time and we had an Amah [maid] so we were free to participate in the many sporting and social clubs going.  They had a club for just about every sport you could think of."


Click here for more of Bill's "Escape" Cartoons

On his return, Bill was posted to RAAF Richmond, where he turned his hand to dentistry as a Dental Technician, because of a serious shortage at the time.  After completing his training Bill was posted to Edinburgh, but 13 years in the Air Force had taken its toll and Bill felt cheated when he was forced to surrender his rank on re-mustering (after four years Return-of-Service post-training) and start again as an Aircraftsman (AC).

"My protests eventually changed this ludicrous rule, but it was too late for me.  I had made up my mind to resign from the Air Force and move into a civilian practice in Newcastle."

The Chambers' moved into their Jewells home where Bill spent close to 30 years in dentistry before the itch to change careers returned.  He trained as a Paramedic with ASNSW and is now taking that further by beginning a University degree in Paramedic Science.

Bill, however, remains in contact with many of his former military mates - attending reunions and communicating through social media.  He also still finds time to enjoy his other hobbies - scuba diving and underwater photography.  At 57, Bill says he's very settled with his lot...

(Until...!)

Don't miss our other pages of Bill's cartoons:  

"Mirage Operations"

 "Mirage Escape!"

and
 "Mirage Maintenance Moments..."

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